Newsom signs legislation to make college more affordable and accessible in California
Last updated 8/6/2021 at 1:48pm
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom signed a higher education budget trailer bill implementing significant California Comeback Plan investments in college affordability and access – including expanded student financial aid, education and training grants for workers displaced by the pandemic, transfer pathways for community college students and college savings accounts for low-income and underrepresented public school students.
The Governor’s California Comeback Plan provides an unprecedented level of investment in the state’s world-class public higher education system, with $47.1 billion total for the University of California, California State University, California Community Colleges and student financial aid.
“The California Comeback Plan doubles down on our commitment to making college more affordable and accessible than ever before, boosting the state’s nation-leading recovery from the pandemic and driving our long-term economic prosperity,” said Governor Newsom. “With massive increases in funding for our world-class colleges and universities, expanded college savings accounts, increased student financial aid and opportunities to gain work experience while learning, we are helping students reach their full potential and driving upward mobility across California.”
Making college more affordable, AB 132 implements the California Comeback Plan’s expansion of the Cal Grant program for community college students by eliminating age and time-out-of-high-school requirements, with awards that follow students to the UC and CSU upon transfer. Starting in 2022-23, the bill also revises the Middle Class Scholarship program to provide scholarships intended to cover up to the difference between a student’s total cost of attendance and other sources of aid, including student and family contributions, depending upon available resources each year. It also makes summer financial aid investments for UC and CSU students permanent and includes $115 million for Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree grant programs and open educational resources at CCCs, helping address the rising costs of textbooks.
Working to create more equitable and streamlined pathways from school to career, the budget trailer bill establishes a Learning-Aligned Employment program at the UC, CSU and CCC to help underrepresented students with financial need gain relevant work experience, promoting long-term employment opportunities. It also establishes the Golden State Education and Training Grant Program to provide grants for education or high-quality training for workers displaced by the pandemic.
Improving access, AB 132 establishes a dual admissions program that provides eligible first-time freshman applicants the opportunity for guaranteed admission to the UC or CSU campus of their choice following completion of an Associate Degree for Transfer or another transfer pathway at a CCC. It also requires school districts and other educational agencies to confirm that high school seniors who have not opted out complete FAFSA or California Dream Act applications for financial aid.
In addition, the legislation expands the California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program (CalKIDS) to provide $500 base deposits to seed college savings accounts for public school students from low-income families, English learners and foster youth, with supplemental deposits for foster youth and homeless students. AB 132 also establishes the governance and operational structure for the state’s Cradle to Career data system, which will connect education, workforce and social services data to better inform parents, educators and policymakers.
The California Comeback Plan will create more slots for in-state students who wish to attend a CSU or UC school; sets aside $2 billion to address housing and space needs at the UC, CSU and CCCs, contingent upon future legislation, which will help drive down the cost of student housing; provides $50 million for Guided Pathways programs to help community college students graduate on time; and includes investments to support equity-focused programs at community colleges and Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships programs at UC campuses, helping to bridge equity gaps.
Submitted by the office of Governor Gavin Newsom.